Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Blasphemy by Douglas Preston
I've been doing books and taxes for the family, in addition to my job, so I've fallen way behind in my blogging. All work and no fun; so, now I'm playing catch-up. Whine, whine. Some books I call "popcorn reading" because they are fun and quick to consume, while providing a minimum of nutritional value - which isn't to say that popcorn reading lacks worth, just that it's really not brain food, and there's nothing really wrong with that. Reading should be enjoyable. One of my favourite types of "popcorn" is chick lit. And some popcorn actually provides food for thought, like Mitch Albom's books, but absorption doesn't require much effort and the thoughts come easily. The thriller category also has a preponderance of popcorn. And with Blasphemy, you get the jumbo sized popcorn with a candy bar. Think movie. This was an ultimate popcorn experience. At Red Mesa, Arizona, tunnelled deep inside the mountains, mad(?) genius Gregory North Hazelius heads up the government-funded Isabella Project. Isabella, the most super supercomputer ever built, is at the heart of a mammoth, enormously powerful particle accelerator built to smash together subatomic particles, unleashing energies last created during the Big Bang. We dive immediately into intimations of danger - what if Isabella creates a black hole? The first run - Isabella is not responding as anticipated - Hazelius insists on continuing - and then, as Isabella and the particles scream in the tunnels - contact with another being. What is this being - the work of a hacker or maybe God? Add to the plot: Wyman Ford, ex-CIA, sent by the US government to find out what is really going on; Navajos protesting the mega project in their backyard; Reverend Don T. Spates, a slimy fundamentalist preacher experiencing sagging revenues; and Pastor Russ Eddy, one of the scariest religious fanatics I've ever met in print. There's blasphemy of all kinds in this book as well as fanatics of all persuasions who converge at Red Mesa. Can science be perverting our humanity or are the scientists showing the way to God? It all comes to a, well, roaring conclusion. Most enjoyable, easily consumed, and yes, thought-provoking.